Friday, June 13, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 06/12/14: Seeing Again, Farewell, Good-Bye

1.  It was a fairly expensive job, I thought, but I am really happy that the bulbs illuminating the fuel gauge, speedometer, and the rest of the panel behind the steering wheel of the Subaru are all replaced and working.  When the Deke and I came home after a beer at Sixteen Tons last night, we were nearly blinded by the new brightness inside our car.  I am relieved to know that if we are driving after dark just outside Mitchell, South Dakota that we'll be able to see, easily, how much gas is in the tank.

2.  I don't know how long Don and Cliff and Jeff and Dick and Elliot  have been meeting for beers at Sixteen Tons on Thursday afternoons, but one Thursday a few months ago the Deke and I strolled in to Sixteen Tons and Don invited me to join them on Thursdays.  So I did.  It's been great fun yakking about music and movies and language and hearing stories about stuff that happened in Pocatello, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Chile, England, Ohio, and other points around the world.  Unless I make it back to Eugene on a Thursday some day in the future, this was my last time meeting up with these guys.  I hope I can find other guys my age (Elliot is kind of an old soul) in the D. C. area to throw back a pint or two with and ramble on about stuff.   This has been a lot of fun.

3.  When it comes to Jeff and MB and Michael, I know they have been having coffee together since their days at the U of O in graduate school.  I started grad school before they did and wasn't around much when they started having coffee, but once MB was back in Eugene to teach at LCC, Jeff and Margaret invited me to join them.  For a while, Peter was with us, but he moved away, and Michael joined us when he moved back to Eugene.  So, I've been drinking coffee with these friends and fellow teachers on a regular basis for over twenty years.  I've known them for thirty years.  We had coffee today and I enjoyed doing what we always do:  we talked about movies and music and stuff we've been doing; we talked about students and little bit about basketball and about LaPush.

Until I return to Eugene to visit some day, this was our last coffee. We said good-bye.  Without ceremony.  Our friendships run too deep to act as if today was the end.  The river of our friendship is changing its course and we'll just work at keeping it going in a different way, without coffee.

MB and Jeff and Michael will continue to meet and gab  over coffee.  This summer they will meet with others to start making their way through James Joyce's Ulysses.  It might take them years.  This will be a great comfort to me, knowing that Michael and Jeff and MB will go on.

I will never know this kind of experience again.  In my new life, I will not have friends I've known for thirty years, friends with whom I've studied and taught, and more important, friends with whom I've shared in things that have gone really well for us and things that have been really difficult. 

Sometimes during our coffee today my mind drifted to all I've experienced with MB, Jeff, and Michael, individually and together:  team teaching, driving through Weyerhauser timber land checking gypsy moth traps, hearing Richard Thompson, hearing Bruce Cockburn, supporting each other in times of grief -- especially times of death, but also in times of illness, difficulties at home with kids, broken relationships, and other things -- going to Grateful Dead shows, student/faculty get togethers in Jeff's back yard, talking about everything from Shakespeare to Rumi to Van Morrison to Bob Dylan to the stories and poems of the working class to Grand Funk Railroad and Neil Diamond.

I don't expect these conversations to end.  Email and blogs make staying in touch and conversing, make closing the distance, so much easier. 

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